Saturday, November 30, 2013


Joan Mitchell, Les Bluets, 1973

Today's Menu: Still Bluets, by Maggie Nelson

Which led me to Joan Mitchell's Les Bluets from 1973, one of Nelson's all-time favorite paintings.

And this:

153. I've read that children pretty much prefer red hands-down over all other colors; the shift into liking cooler tones--such as blue--happens as they grow older. Nowadays half the adults in the Western World say that blue is their favorite color. 

Me? I am not so much a fan of indigo blue. I prefer teal, amber, burgundy, umber, gray. Even the pink of this Rothko. 

Joan Mitchell's painting does nothing for me. These Rothko's heart jump a little. They feel inexplicably true. Like a place I long to return to. 

Which is just material to ponder on this sunny morning near the wood stove. 

Friends are coming for lunch today. 

The chili is hot, the flavors melding. 

Owen Cricket is asleep in the big bed upstairs.

Happy Hanukkah and late November to you all. 


(PS: what colors are you?)

Thursday, November 28, 2013


with the night falling we are saying thank you 
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings 
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
smiling by the windows looking out
in our directions

back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you

over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you

with the animals dying around us
our lost feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
we are saying thank you and waving
dark though it is

~ W.S. Merwin

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


grateful on this grey, wet, november morning for light, warmth, wood, sand trucks, oranges, rugs, old friends, bird seed (and the birds they bring), the toothless mouths of babes, the big hearts of my children, the eccentric, the devoted, the quiet, tea, things that are still, things made of wood (and the heat it brings), things that are green, things made by hands, electricity (and the light it brings), old friends, new friends, deer, birds, the ephemeral mountain lion, darkness, soup, light, books (and the company of the eccentric, brave, devoted people who made them), trees, bears, warmth, wood, light,  rain, the big hearts of my children, old friends, new friends, rugs, wings, deer, oranges, the big hearts of my children.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

other good things

I felt immediately bashful and somewhat embarrassed about yesterday's self-promoting post. So here's another list of things that would look good stuffed under trees, none of which are related to me, my co-workers or my family in any way.

1. These wrist/arm warmers my friend Liane makes at enhabiten
2. Some music by our friend Birdie
3. My friend Megan's book Birds of a Lesser Paradise


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

good things

I don't like to self-promote too much here on woodbird, but I thought I would give a few holiday gift suggestions for any of you who are looking around aimlessly.

1. The first release of Green Writers Press: The Bird Book, by Brian Cohen & Holiday Eames
2. A little Red Heart the Ticker
3. Whetstone CiderWorks' hard cider, available in stores throughout Vermont and New York City
4. A little more Red Heart the Ticker

They'd all look kind of nice wrapped up under a tree, no?

Much love, all.

(PS: we'll give you a deal on all three CDs if you comment below)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

today's menu: bluets

Today's Menu

Reading: Bluets, by Maggie Nelson

Drinking: loose leaf Irish Breakfast

Thinking: This book was delivered to me mid-summer by one friend who had travelled to the midwest and visited with another friend who handed her a stack of books to send my way. This has sat on my bedside table since then (alongside Goodnight Moon, Pippi Longstocking, and far too many Sandra Boynton books).

I've picked it up occasionally and thought, oh, to be an adult reading. And then that moment has passed, for endless and myriad reasons.

But this past week I found myself with a handful of reading opportunities (mostly having to do with a fevered baby who needed to nurse 24/7), which allowed me to pick up, at long last, in the quiet of mid-morning, Bluets.

It's beautiful. It reminds me of the things I wrote as a senior in college: fragmented, intellectual, deeply personal. (How surreally far off that era--and its accompanying heartbreak--feel.)

It also contains some underlining by that friend in the midwest, which means her ghost is in the room with me, reading along.

Conflations of all kinds.

I'll stop here--said baby is sure to wake any moment. If you want to know more you can read my friend Michelle's thoughts about the book, and an excerpt, here.

(Many thanks, friends.)

Monday, November 18, 2013


Delighted to say that both Avah and I will be reading this Friday at Marlboro College. We'll be joining Marlboro College writing professor Khyl Lyndgaard and Whole Terrain Editor Michael Metivier for a celebration of Whole Terrain's Heresy Issue. (Of which we were honored to be a part.)

My people go back a long way at Marlboro. My great-grandparents, John and Olive, were founders of the science program. My grandfather has taught there for close to seventy-five years (or maybe he's surpassed that?)

The little, white, window-filled building we'll be reading in is (and has forever been) called Appletree, which makes me happy for all kinds of reasons.

Avah, the poet, will no-doubt wear something amazing.

If you're near, come join us!

Friday, November 15, 2013

porous, supple

I have a feeling I've posted this Jane Hirshfield poem before, though if that's true, I can't find it. So here it is...for the first time, or the second. It's the one I reached for...that returned...that jumped off the page. It's a continuation of my exploration of porousness. (Other words for it, according to my computer's flimsy thesaurus: permeablepenetrableperviouscellularholey, absorbentabsorptive.) Being a mother will make you all of those things. My children are, I think, just like this stag, passing through. Happy November morning, all. 

The Supple Deer

The quiet opening

between fence strands
perhaps eighteen inches. 

Antlers to hind hooves,

four feet off the ground,
the deer poured through. 

No tuft of the coarse white belly hair left behind. 

I don't know how a stag turns

into a stream, an arc of water. 
I have never felt such accurate envy. 

Not of the deer:

To be that porous, to have such largeness pass through me. 

-Jane Hirshfield (Come, Thief)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


morning. there's another dusting of snow on the ground this a.m. that fills my house with a bristling, silver light. my tea is strong. my teeth are clean. the moon is waxing and the woodstove is doing its warming.

happy mid-november morning to you all.

Friday, November 8, 2013

old friends

early morning. wood stove. house full of old friends. coffee. tea. and then: snow. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


November brings me, once again, inside. I spend my work mornings on a little chair next to the woodstove, cup of hot tea propped on the bookshelf next to me, looking out my windows at these leafless trees and feathered grasses. (When not staring into my computer.)

This gray month brings connectivity, too. Yesterday Alexis Smith's Glaciers arrived in the mail, accompanied by a letter in the most beautiful penmanship I've ever seen. Is that how they teach people to write in Alaska? A vintage postcard, too, which I think just might make my dad's day. 

Can't wait to dive into this one, tonight, by the fire, hot toddy in tow. What books, pray tell, are warming you? 

Saturday, November 2, 2013


Last year's November post for you, again, in case, like me, you needed reminding why one should love this quiet month:

November. If I were to choose one month to describe the place I live or the songs I sing or the stories I write it would be November: the trees bare, the ground gray and tawny and umber, the sky at last visible through the branches. In other words: stark. Like Stark Road, which joins MacArthur a quarter-mile uphill, named after Molly Stark, the revolutionary war hero. And like Route 9, the federal highway at the foot of our road also known as “The Molly Stark Trail” because it is the route Molly walked two-hundred-plus years ago when it was no more than a trail. And so MacArthur—this road I live on, named after my grandparents and their determined hubris to make a home out of an abandoned homestead up an otherwise empty logging road—is a bridge between The Molly Stark Trail and Stark Road. A bridge, then, between Stark’s staccato sounds: sharp-pointed t’s and k’s like the whetstones, used for sharpening knives, that line the brook our road runs along. But Molly? What muted loveliness is in that name! M and l’s and rolling vowels.  And November? It has my favorite letter in it—v—and my favorite vowel—o. It’s thus the bare trees and the cold ground but the woodstove, too.  It’s the wool sweater and the leather boots and the crunch of leaves and the walk through them. It’s deer in the garden and hunting season’s rifles and the last stray geese. And that three-syllable lilting song-ness of it—No-vem-ber? Is the muted lullaby, the quiet, still, clarity this month allows before the bright frenzy of December with its soft c and all the glittering s’s of “Christmas lights.” And so, November: the great window, in all my favorite colors. Through which the light—gray and clear and luminous—makes its way through the dark (stark) branches above.